Weirdly, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this much here, but my big trip of this year was a week in Las Vegas! My housemate & I booked the trip in April, and spent a week in Sin City from the 11th-19th December and had the best time.
How We Got There & Where We Stayed
Part of the reason Vegas became a thing was because of the discount holiday site Holiday Pirates. They posted an amazing deal with meant that our flights and hotel cost about £500 each, which was too good a deal to pass up.
We flew from Gatwick with Norwegian, which I would really rate. I’ve never flown long-haul before so was slightly nervous, but the flight was really nice. Plenty of films to choose from on the in flight entertainment and the plane food was okay too. Our deal included 2 hold bags each and all the food, so I can’t comment on how much it is to add this.
We stayed at The Luxor in one of their Pyramid rooms. I will say it wasn’t the most fancy, and the door wasn’t super sound-proofed meaning this light sleeper didn’t always get the most rest. However, it was spacious, the shower was huge and it was pretty cool to be staying in the building that makes the hotel famous. We didn’t spend tons of time in our room anyway and it more than served its purpose.
Where We Went
We spent our first full day not in Vegas at all, but at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon isn’t actually in Nevada, but in Arizona, so the journey to get there is quite a long one. Obviously if you go by helicopter it’s a lot faster, but we were both too cheap/nervous to do that so booked a South Rim tour via Canyon Tours. The tour took us via the Hoover Dam to the Canyon which is insane. It’s one of those places that just doesn’t feel real when you look at it. Our driver was great and the tour recording that was played was really interesting too. It is a long day, but totally worth it.
One of our favourite evening destinations was Fremont Street. Fremont is downtown Vegas, and easily accessible via the Deuce or SDX. It’s a neon lovers paradise, featuring tons of casinos (which are a lot more win-friendly than those on the Strip), bars and places to eat. It’s a lot more chill than the Strip, with outdoor free concerts and a vibe that reminded me a bit of Soho.
We also obviously spent a lot of time checking out all the different hotels. Caesar’s Palace was definitely a favourite. A mock up of Rome (complete with faux Trevi fountain), it has some great shops where we did a fair bit of damage and is also just really pretty. Another favourite for me was The Venetian, which as the name suggests is fake Venice complete with (very expensive) gondola rides and beautiful shops.
Obviously, the Bellagio and its fountain show had to be checked out and I will say that this was the hotel that did the MOST for Christmas which a huge Christmas tree and a shop to rival the Liberty one. However, for me the Wynn just about outdid them for sheer beauty (and it has its own fountains).
Out of all the hotels we visited, I would possibly most like to stay in the Flamingo if (when) I re-visit the city. I was very pleased by its aesthetic (my housemate said it was me in hotel form), its actual flamingos and the very cool history.
We also saw a Cirque show whilst we were out in Vegas. There’s a huge array of shows to pick from, and Britney would have been amazing, but tickets are quite expensive. We saw One, which is their Michael Jackson show and I really enjoyed it. The plot is kind of non-existent but the music was obviously great and the talent and design was very cool.
Where We Ate
The food in Vegas is pretty great, and you have all kinds of options across the budget spectrum. Some of my favourites were:
Super deep-pan pizza. Seriously delicious. The cheese on this is amazing and somehow tastes even better cold the following morning. This was also where I discovered that unsweetened iced tea is a pretty great drink.
Nacho Daddy, Downtown (also in Miracle Mile)
Potentially the best name for a Mexican restaurant ever. We went here after a night of drinks making it possibly the best end of the night food I’ve ever eaten. I had fish tacos which were delicious; the mango salsa was the bomb.
Mercato della Pescheria, Venetian
It felt daft to go to a Italy-inspired hotel and not eat Italian food. This restuarant does a very cool ‘lunchbox’ menu and their meatballs and salmon were both amazing. I also really rated their espresso martini.
Wicked Spoon, Cosmopolitan
America loves a buffet, and Wicked Spoon is pretty great. I made the cardinal error of filling up too early, but loved their clam chowder, eggs benedict and crab bucatini. Their gelato was also great.
Sprinkles, The Linq
Specifically, the Sprinkles ATM. You can order a cupcake from an ATM! I went with the birthday cake style one, which is essentially funfetti. Delicious.
The perfect hangover cure, Eggslut sells ‘fancy’ versions of McMuffins and other egg-based deliciousness.
Where We Drank
Corduroy was probably my favourite bar that we visited during our time in Vegas. Located downtown near the Fremont Street experience, it has a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack which played many of my faves (The Killers, Oasis etc), had a lightbox room for selfie dreams, various neon signs and a neon room. Also it does Moscow Mules on tap!
-Parasol Down, Wynn
We popped into Parasol Down before we went to XS. It definitely looks a lot more expensive than it is, beautiful decorated with a view out to the Wynn’s lake (during summer the terrace must be lovely). The Wynn has a quite trippy Lake of Dreams show which this bar gives you a great view of.
The Cosmopolitan has lots of bars, with their Chandelier one looking particularly lovely. We stopped for a drink at Vesper (for novelty factor, they also have one called Bond), which was pretty cool. There’s a huge, pretty unique cocktail menu and the vibe is really cool.
It did feel like whilst in Vegas we should at least check out one of the many clubs. After managing to score free guestlists for pretty much every club on the Saturday night, we decided on XS due to a combo of beautiful interiors and The Chainsmokers doing a set. Clubs here are definitely different to in the UK with many queues and eye-watering drink prices, but we had a lot of fun dancing to some good music and enjoying the novelty of an indoor/outdoor club.
So I’m sure some of these will be a no-brainer if you’ve already been in the States, but here are some things that caught me by surprise about the US & Vegas more generally
–Tax: For some bizarre reason, prices don’t tend to include sales tax in the US. Meaning that nothing will cost what you think it will. I just gave up ever paying exact change for anything ever.
-Gratuity: In Vegas, tips were generally expected to be 18-20% in most bars and restaurants (including clubs). Also leaving a couple of dollars in your hotel room for housekeeping, and having some spare for taxis and other hotel staff is a must.
–Distance: Although my friends who have been to Vegas and did tell me that the Strip is huge I kind of ignored it. BUT THE STRIP IS HUGE. From the Luxor at the South of the strip to the Stratosphere took about 40 minutes on the Deuce (probably less in a cab, but that is $$$)
I had the absolute best time in Vegas, and am definitely hoping to go again or tick another city of my list (NYC anyone)